Tag Archives: Motherhood

What happens when you get scanned by Aussie bloke sonographer…

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What happens when you get scanned by Aussie bloke sonographer…

Finally, I reached full term last Sunday (37 weeks). My last bub was born at 37+4 after my waters broke at 37+2 so I was madly preparing for a potential early labour after finishing up work 2 days prior. Having had a bad case of painful shingles over the Christmas period which saw me unable to even have the air from a fan touch my skin without pain while a record breaking heat wave raged for days on end, I had done precious little to prepare for bubs arrival.  Luckily I didn’t have too much to do having been given a huge about of baby clothes and other bits and pieces, which I was really appreciative of. One advantage of being an older mother is that you know lots of other people who know for sure they aren’t having any more kids and are more than willing to give things away to you.

So luckily I was finally prepared and not surprised when labour seemed to threaten to start early in the week (Mon/Tues) with a lot of cramping, back pain and a few scattered contractions, but it never actually went anywhere. In fact it stopped altogether, even my long term semi-regular Braxton Hicks tightenings disappeared. I spent the next few days waiting impatiently and distractedly in front of the air conditioner with hospital bag packed, but nothing more. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Zero. The idea of starting another binge watching series on Netflix made me want to cry. I’d go to the supermarket just to be able to walk more than a few metres at a time somewhere where there was air conditioning

So despite thinking I would never need it, I ended up going to a scan that was rebooked from when I had shingles, i.e. it was supposed to be three weeks ago at 34 weeks but was now at 37+4. And it’s a guy sonographer. Well, more accurately if you are familiar with Aussie lingo, it’s a bloke.

The guy started off with a lecture: fibroids don’t excite him, after a certain age every other woman has one, it’s not a big deal. Women come in and it’s “my fibroid this and my fibroid that”, but honestly, the chances he’ll even be able to see it at this late stage are so slim he’s already called the supervisor to come in to have a chat to me about it, ok? Just for a second opinion, to make me feel better, when he can’t find it.

I shrugged. I had actually called my doctor earlier and asked if I REALLY had to go, I didn’t want to. She made me go.

So he starts the scan, with his slightly patronising but well meaning voice still going he shows me the baby’s head, explaining that despite being full term she’s not even engaged yet, I’ve got ages to go. Then there’s a pause, followed by an exclamation “Wow, would you look at the size of that! You know how I said fibroids don’t excite me? Well that’s a fibroid that excites me! No wonder it’s not engaged, how’s the baby’s head ever going to get past that? … [Pulls himself up] …But I mean that’s a question for your doctor… [ Doesn’t last long] …Seriously though, that’s like the alarm going off in this room and both of us trying to get out that little door with the Incredible Hulk standing in the way. You know what I’m saying?”

Yep, loud and clear. Cheers mate.

So there you go. I’m booked in for a c-section after all.

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30 weeks and getting my inner house in order

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30 weeks and getting my inner house in order

30 weeks. I feel like I’m over the hump and the countdown has begun. I’m working on my thoughts at the moment though, and have caught myself out in some unhelpful thinking. I have found there’s some early mother guilt setting in. I often think that I wish I enjoyed pregnancy, I really do, but I am working too hard, too far from home and all I feel is exhaustion. I feel like I should be the serene mother, taking time to sit quietly and “commune” with my unborn baby, sending loving, positive vibes her way, practicing deep breathing and generally being calm. In reality that might have happened maybe twice in this whole pregnancy. I wish I had time to do yoga to help my back, instead of spending so many hours a day at a computer ruining it. I feel like I’m already a bad, busy, overworked mother and she is a neglected baby. 

Really, that’s ridiculous. By dwelling on this woe-is-me attitude all I’m doing is robbing myself of the little joy that is available, and that’s all. It’s a picture of an ideal world and while some of us are lucky to live in it many of us aren’t. I’m busy, but I’m busy because I’m supporting my family and building my future, trying to change and adapt it to one that doesn’t have to go back to the office – a two hour commute away – five days a week, way too early in her little life. I’m busy because I’m planning to be there for her future. I’m generally eating well, getting moderate exercise and trying to manage my stress the best I can, and that’s all she needs right now. I’m not a bad mother before she’s even born, I’m a strong, capable woman, looking towards and planning for her future while not neglecting the other commitments in my life. Right now that’s the best I can be, and it is enough.

I’m not scared of the birth (yet)

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I’m not scared of the birth (yet)

Fifteen years ago, like most women in their first pregnancy I imagine, I spent a lot of time thinking about, researching and creating my birth plan. I wanted as natural a birth for my son as was possible, and I wanted to labour in water as pain management, that was a big one for me. As it turns out, no-one cared about the birth plan, at all. I’m not sure anyone even looked at it.

I was living in London at the time and was booked into Guy’s Hospital. After an initial false start I finally did get admitted and shown to a birthing suit that had a large bath, only to be told that if I was to use it I needed a midwife with me all the time and they were simply too short staffed that night to accommodate that. I sat on a birth ball in a sterile and stark room, shivering with cold, laboring through the night feeling very overwhelmed and alone while my husband (at the time) slept in the corner. I remember looking longingly at the bath, its presence but inaccessibility taunting me.

I did go on to have an epidural when extreme exhaustion set in. This was the second night I had laboured, I’m one of those people who’s contractions seem to virtually stop during daylight hours, and so after 36 hours of nothing but occasional dozing I gave in to pain relief at 4:30am. The labour stalled at sunrise again, and eventually I was told I was going to be prepped for a cesarean as I had been stuck at 8cm dilated for too long and the baby was now in distress. ‘Just give a push a try’ the doctor said on his way out. I did, and the midwife grabbed my husband by the arm and thrust him into catch position as she madly lunged for gloves. Two more pushes later he was out and the midwife was breathing sighs of relief telling us she’d never seen an actual birth so fast.

My memories of that birth were riddled with feelings of being scared, cold, alone and disempowered, so when number two came along I was determined to do things differently. We’d moved back to Sydney and I had private health cover so I hired a private midwife. I saw the same person throughout the pregnancy so she came to know me, and my values, well. I prepared a birth plan and we’d gone through it but it hadn’t really been necessary, she knew exactly what I wanted and didn’t want. Again the priorities were as natural as possible and please let me labour in water.

Again I found myself in a room with a birthing bath but unable to use it, mostly because number two arrived so fast that I had bearly time to get into the room. Again the hospital had been short staffed, but this time I had my own midwife with me and felt like I was in safe hands. Arriving at 1am I was left waiting in the hallway with another laboring woman with no staff to be seen. He wasn’t going to wait however, he was on his way. My midwife barged into the other room where all the other midwives were and declared she was taking me into the other suite to deliver the baby whether they liked it or not. Two came running immediately. The actual birth was fast again, this time after just a three hour labour. I was still standing near the doorway, having just made it into the room. If my midwife hadn’t been there I probably would have delivered in the hallway, or maybe the labour wouldn’t have been so fast because I didn’t feel safe and supported, I don’t know. What I do know was that it felt like the perfect birth, I’d managed to mentally master the pain and looking back it felt like an empowering experience. I felt like I had conquered the world!

This time, having dropped my private health insurance obstetrics cover long ago, I will be back to a similar situation as my first birth, rocking up at the hospital and hoping I’d come across the midwife on duty before. Even if I had a choice I don’t think I would have felt it necessary to have a private midwife, I’ve done this before and nailed it, I got this. I have a more supportive partner that I have confidence in and I’m less invested in how the baby arrives so much as that she arrives safely. Is this nonchalance because I no longer have anything to prove, or is it because I’m older and wiser? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because at 44 (which I will be when I give birth) they tell you the risks of this and that are so much higher that I will feel blessed just to both get through this alive. Maybe it’s because my large fibroid may mean I need a cesarean anyway, and in coming to terms with that idea already I have started to practice letting go.

I know I will eventually do a birth plan because I’m that type A personality that needs to dot all the i’s and cross all the it’s in order to feel in control and reduce anxiety, but I think I’ve also matured enough to know when to let go and just go with the flow. There has to be some advantage to this older mother gig, maybe that’s it. I’m heading into the third trimester unafraid of the birth experience that is nearing, and that feels good.

Pregnancy and parenting teens don’t mix

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Pregnancy and parenting teens don’t mix

Well, our little mini break without the kids and school pressures on hold due to school holidays is over. And don’t I know it. 

I’d been rocking along ok for a while, yeah maybe I wasn’t happy that they still using that c word at me (cesarean) but that’s not the end of the world, just an inconvenience (I’ll have very little help after the birth) and a disappointment to get over if it happens. But by the end of that first week back at school I that wasn’t feeling  great. I reasoned it away: I was stacking on the weight, which was getting me down; I am approaching the third trimester and starting to get tired again, which is to be expected; there were some pressures coming up at work, I found out I was going to be the one left holding the fort over the Christmas/New Year period at eight months pregnant; and the first week of school term always hurts a little as I get back into the hectic swing of things. I chose to work from home on the Friday, I’m lucky to have that option, and thought I’d pick up over the weekend.

I didn’t. I had lots of plans, but I was tired and struggling to do them. Mr Z was a bit crabby with me, wanting me to do more. I was trying, but really I was pushing already, too hard. When everyone is used to you being the one keeping it all together ads getting things done they don’t react too well when you start dropping balls though. Don’t expect sympathy, expect a’get it together mum’ attitude. I tried.

By Monday afternoon, the first day of the working week, I was already struggling. I’d had yet another call from the school about my eldest son’s behaviour. The usual support teacher is away for a couple of months and it seems like everything is going to pieces, I felt on the edge of cope. I came home, cranky at my lack of help, made dinner then went to bed to watch Netflix on my phone with headphones in. An unspoken do not disturb. People weren’t pleased. I didn’t care.

By Tuesday morning I was exhausted just getting out of bed, I had a headache and my eyes hurt. I had a big row with both my eldest son and Mr Z. I felt over them both. I went to work in an upset daze, just staring out the window of the train, unable to do so much as read the news. When I arrived at work I told people I simply wasn’t well, had a bad headache (it was true) and was told I was looking terrible and pale in return. I had no appetite, I left work just after lunch, tears threatening to spill over already the train. I felt exhausted and the sciatic pain was overwhelming.

Mr Z got home late that night, again I was in bed. He didn’t so much as come in the room. It became obvious he intended to sleep on the lounge. At one point I got up and tried to talk to him, to tell him I wasn’t well, but he didn’t want to know. I ended up yelling it at him, that someone should know that I’m not doing ok, whether he cared or not, just in case something happened. He ignored me. I cried myself to sleep. 

The following day he was distant but kind, he brought me coffee in bed. I got out of bed long enough to get the kids to school, then returned, and so did the tears. I cried off and on for hours that day, unable to stop for very long between, my head splitting. I was texting a friend, trying to verbalize what was wrong, I couldn’t, the only words in my head were “I can’t”. Mentally I kept running over everything I have to achieve, telling myself I had to get it together, I had no luxury to go to pieces, but the only response to anything was “I can’t”.

Mr Z finally approached me, saying “You aren’t doing ok are you?”. My reply was yet another bout of sobs. He doesn’t do crying, he usually heads out the door till it’s over. He stayed, put on his professional hat and gave me an assessment. High blood pressure, he eventually concluded. I cried some more. He gave me an acupuncture treatment, frustrated that it wouldn’t provide an instant fix that would get his partner back to him, now.

I stayed in bed for the rest of the day, and didn’t go to work the following day either, although I had finally managed to get out of bed. The treatment was kicking in and my headache was letting up although I was still a bit dizzy. Then the vice principle rang. She was putting my son on a in-school suspension for a day, they were at wits end with him. I said join the club. 

I told her I wasn’t doing so well myself, the baby was starting to be affected. She said she didn’t push medication, and respected my decision to this point to not go down that path, but for everybody’s sake maybe it was time. She said he just was too disruptive to keep in the classroom, but was trying so hard and was starting to get down on himself that he just didn’t get it. 

I have always been on his side, always asking for understanding for him because he doesn’t think the same way as the average person, but now I wasn’t so sure. He was given a lunch time detention and simply decided not to go. That isn’t autism, that arrogant teenage  asshole-ism. I wasn’t so convinced that autistic thinking was behind his behaviour, so much as having been suspended and his father  (that he ran off to at that point) having allowed him to treat it like a holiday, a reward, a well needed break from having to behave himself at school. That experience, and his autistic view of it – that it didn’t matter how it affected anyone else, it was a good thing for him- I viewed that the biggest problem here. I’m not sure he needs medication so much as a good kick up the behind.

The following day I felt a lot better, the acupuncture treatment was kicking in, although a lingering headache persisted. It was Friday and rather than push myself to go to work I took the extra day to rest and go to the hospital antenatal clinic for a more formal checkup for peace of mind. My blood pressure had come down to the normal range and baby was doing fine but they put more through a lot of tests anyway, my risk factors for pre-eclampsia were increasing and they needed to rule it out, which they did. Not only that but I’d lost 2kg, probably due to the reduction in hypertensive fluid retention. I left relieved.

And so we trudge on. I’m still not glowing.

When misfortune is a really gift in disguise

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When misfortune is a really gift in disguise

I was ready a little early this morning and thought I could make the early train, so I ran down the stairs and asked MrZ, “Run me to the station?”. “Sure, hop in”, he said, unlocking the car and then meandering back up the stairs to check I’d turned the grill off after making Master13 breakfast. Oh no, oh no, I thought, I asked him to drive me so I could get there quicker! Sure enough as we were pulling in to the station so was the train, “Run!” he said, “No!” I replied, picking up my textbook ladened bag and looking at all the stairs. Suddenly I had 20 minutes to fill.

My day is so often hectic, from the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to sleep, that it took me a moment to adjust to the idea that I now had 20 minutes to do nothing. I wandered down the street to get a coffee and came back to the station to sit in the spring sunshine. I have been reassessing my life lately and one of my conclusions as a result is that I need to practice more mindfulness and to find more time in the day to sit and just be, even if it is at my desk or on the train, or five minutes on the lounge while the kids are otherwise entertained. For years I wanted to get back into a meditation routine but never seemed to find the time more than once or twice after a renewed resolution, but that’s just the way life is when you are a working mother, it’s busy and time is scarce, particularly time for yourself, and focusing on the lack of it just makes everything worse. 

Finally I realised that I had been setting myself up to fail with my perfectionist “all or nothing” attitude. If something hasn’t been working for so long it’s time to take another look at it. Instead of aiming for several 20 minute sessions of uninterrupted meditation time a week, I now take time wherever I can to close my eyes and clear my mind, or if I think I might look odd with my eyes closed I focus on a nearby object (like my phone). I used to find my intuition was heightened when I did yoga on a regular basis the same way as if I was meditating regularly, (yoga being a form of waking, moving mediation), so this “imperfect” form of meditating is surely better than nothing. It’s an opportunity to still my mind and just be, bringing more peace to my life, quiet to my mind and creating opportunities for the universe to whisper its soft messages into my ear and actually be heard.

So this morning, instead of being frustrated that I just missed my train, I was reassured that the universe is hearing me and responded by giving me an opportunity to do exactly what I have been setting my intentions to do, and I sat and enjoyed my 20 minutes of sunshine with gratitude. It’s supposed to turn cold again tomorrow, wasn’t the timing perfect?

Why we shouldn’t judge

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Why we shouldn’t judge

I got my first discipline related call from the new high school yesterday. I can’t tell you how stressful I find these calls.

Everything had been quiet in the first seven weeks, although admittedly Master13 had been off sick for almost two weeks due to a bad run with illness this winter. I have been checking in with him regularly and while after a few weeks his depressive mood seemed to be lifting he still spoke of not having been able to make a friend. They are all friendly he said, but they say he doesn’t look happy in their company, maybe he would be happier if he made other friends. 

“They are not like me”, he says, “I don’t know what to say to them, they are not into the same things I’m into”. This is typical spectrum sort of stuff, there is typically a narrow range of interest and combine that with social awkwardness it becomes hard for them to make friends. He was clearly upset by Master10 spending last Saturday afternoon with his new friend; Master13 was jealous, it all seems to come so easily to Master10. To my delight however, on Monday afternoon Master13 asked if he could have a friend come over after school this Wednesday, the day that school finishes a little early each week. Maybe his jealously had promoted him to make a little bit more effort to reach out to a potential friend? I was relieved, this was definitely a step in the right direction.

It was the following day that I got the phone call. Master13 had been mucking around in class with a friend the day before, things had gotten a little out of hand and a pencil had been snapped and a child scratched on the arm with it. This is so typical a pattern, Master13 gets a friend and gets a little silly in his over excitement and something happens. Apparently the mother of this child had rung the school very upset about her son having been “assaulted” and wanted something done about it. The school counsellor assured me that he had inspected the mark and questioned both kids and it appeared to be nothing more than a bit of typical teenage boy rough-housing to him, but he was yet to know what the consequences were going to be (at the last school he would have had an immediate suspension). My heart sank. Here we were again, same place, my son being labeled and me probably being judged, the mother of “that” child, and “that” child’s heart would be aching, again. All he wants is to fit in.

There was part of me that was a bit frustrated and angry too. Surely Master13 had learnt something after everything we had been through at the last school, how could we be back here in this place, if the boy’s mother had been so upset and used a word like “assaulted” then it had to be more than a little rough-housing. The counsellor understood my concern, he assured me there was barely a mark, it seems the mother has a tenancy to overreact according to the son who was equally upset that the whole thing had escalated to this point. The counsellor said he would call the mum and see if he could smooth it over. Great, I thought, when Master13 finally makes a friend it has to be the precious son of an over-involved, helicopter mother.

A short while later the counsellor called back to explain the problem to me. This was the third school for the boy this year, the family had escaped an alcoholic and abusive father several years ago and had moved regularly since. The idea of someone hurting her son was too close to the bone, she admitted she overreacted. He didn’t say but I’m sure he had explained Master13’s Aspergers to her and he assured me she was now okay with the boys still catching up after school. I was relieved, for everyone’s sake. I was concerned too though, so I asked a few questions. Apparently there are four children, at times they have been in a shelter, the boy is the eldest and probably carries the most burden in terms of supporting his mother who is struggling. The counsellor explained that it’s difficult to imagine what she/they might have been though but I should try to see it from her perspective. No, I said, it’s not so difficult, I’ve had my own personal experience in this area although not to that extent, but I understand more than most. My heart went out to her.

For me this is a reminder that we should never judge people, we have no idea what issues they are dealing with, what they have been through or are recovering from. Master13 has complained of being hungry after school lately, he’s been sharing his food with a friend. I think I’ll pack him a little extra every day from now on.